The Business of Fashion Podcast
Michael Kors on Why He Left Fashion Week

Michael Kors on Why He Left Fashion Week

August 4, 2020

The celebrated American designer has spent four decades creating garments at the industry’s pace — now he’s streamlined his collections to just two per year.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — To show or not to show: that is the question on the minds of designers as the calendar inches closer to Fashion Month. Some designers have set their sights on a September show, others are using this pandemic-induced upheaval to take a pause and consider whether or not they should be showing during the traditional Fashion Weeks at all.

American all-star designer Michael Kors joined several other big names, including Saint Laurent and Gucci, in questioning the efficacy of the schedule’s incessant pace when he announced he won’t be presenting a Spring/Summer 2021 collection at New York Fashion Week.

“We can’t just always do things the way we’ve done them in the past… Everyone I think realises that the whole system is mixed up, [it] doesn’t make sense,” Kors told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks on the latest episode of The BoF Podcast. “You can’t look over your shoulder, you have to think about what’s next… right now we have slowed up and I think slowing up is important.”

Kors, whose shows have historically kicked off the last day of New York Fashion Week, discusses his decision to move off the calendar and reduce his production schedule to two collections per year.

  • Recently, the designer announced that he will be presenting his Spring/Summer 2021 collection globally on October 15 on the brand’s social and digital platforms. This will allow consumers to shop the Autumn/Winter collection, which lands in stores in September, before a new season hits the shelves. “October... really became the perfect moment to show a new collection, without cutting off the previous collection that had just arrived in the shops,” he said.
  • For Kors, one reason that influenced the decision to streamline the number collections was the fact that multiple seasons felt convoluted. “Whatever was wrong with calling it Spring/Summer, these are two actual seasons. Fall/Winter, what is Pre-Fall? There is no such thing as Pre-Fall.” he said. “Why are we confusing the consumer and the press with a new season when they haven’t even absorbed the one that has just arrived in the shops? It just didn’t make sense to me.”
  • Part of what has fuelled the high-frequency garment output in the industry is “this insatiable appetite for what’s new,” Kors added. If it makes sense, great, but “new for newness' sake, or because it will look cool on Instagram? Forget it.” Social media has played a critical role in shaping the view that if an item of clothing has been worn once, it can’t be worn again. “The word ‘content’ has diseased the fashion industry. I want to see an image that lasts for more than a second. I want words that actually resonate.”

Related Articles:

Michael Kors Is the Latest Brand to Depart from the Fashion Calendar

A Proposal for Rewiring the Fashion System

Gucci Just Left the Fashion Calendar Behind. Who Will Follow?

 

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LOVE Magazine’s Editors on the Fashion Magazine’s New Role in Culture

LOVE Magazine’s Editors on the Fashion Magazine’s New Role in Culture

July 30, 2020

Ben Cobb and Pierre A. M’Pelé discuss the creative process behind LOVE’s latest two-volume issue and how they responded to the unprecedented events of the last six months.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — What is the role of a fashion magazine at this moment in time? For Ben Cobb, editor-in-chief, men’s, of LOVE Magazine, and Pierre A. M’Pelé, the title’s senior editor, community and collaboration is key.
Launching August 4, the latest iteration of the biannual magazine is two volumes of hardback books, titled “LOVE ‘Diaries 3 March - 4 July’ Volumes 1 and 2” featuring a total of four covers. “I hesitate to even call it a magazine,” said BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in conversation with Cobb and M’Pelé. “[It’s] a remarkable time capsule of this remarkable time.”
  • Despite its triumphant final form, the process behind creating the magazine has not been without its challenges. “There were three senior members very ill with Covid,” said Cobb, describing how the team stepped in to carry out work depending on how healthy they were feeling each day, ahead of M’Pelé joining the team in late June. “We were exhausted and suffering from fatigue, [but] Pierre came in with so much energy.” As a highly collaborative process, it also dissolved the traditional hierarchy of the masthead — “a new way of putting together a magazine,” said Blanks, reminiscent of “the idealistic height of the ’60s.”
  • Producing a fashion magazine — particularly one as extensive as LOVE’s two-tome edition — typically takes a long period of planning and forethought, but the seismic and fast-developing events of the last six months required quickfire changes. The Black Lives Matter protests of May and June “changed the course of action,” said M’Pelé, who himself attended protests in Paris. “The team was very reactive because it was a matter of ‘let’s speak now, let’s take a stance now and let’s be clear of our intentions now...’ If we hadn’t added these Black Lives Matter and systemic racism conversations into the magazine, it would have been too late.” In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, M’Pelé’s “manifesto,” a portable pamphlet-like insert in the book, “became a lot more about new voices, bringing people of colour into the picture,” he said. “I want someone to be able to take it out and give it to their racist aunt.”
  • This period has also called into question the formats and fundamental role that fashion magazines assume. “Editorial perspective…[typically] crystallises a moment and it’s about dictating what that moment means,” said Cobb. “I think what’s been really incredible and transformative about this is that … that dynamic has been completely reversed and the moment tells you what it needs to be.” As for what the next issue of LOVE will look like, “Who knows?” said Cobb. “Maybe a magazine can just be a film.”
 
 

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Fabien Baron Says, ‘The Way We Communicate Is Going to Change’

Fabien Baron Says, ‘The Way We Communicate Is Going to Change’

July 28, 2020

The celebrated art director Fabien Baron talks to BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about the future of image-making.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom —  For famed art director Fabien Baron, the chaos and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic presents an opportunity for the fashion industry to go “back to basics.”

“When there’s doubt like this there’s not really an answer… so there’s opportunities to take more risks and be more creative,” Baron told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in the latest episode of The BoF Podcast. “It’s going to bring a lot of changes… but there’s something very optimistic about change. To be forced to change allows one to really [reflect] on the issues we are all facing.”

  • This period of uncertainty has unlocked conversations that were rippling below the surface, said Baron. Both the pandemic and the recent political unrest has highlighted an opportunity for the fashion industry at large to reshape “old formats” that feel at odds with the world’s new normal. For Baron, that means “a new way of looking things… which may lead you to a new path… it’s going to be an evolution [for the industry].”
  • According to Baron, creativity is the key to unlocking change and as the world adjusts to a new set of challenges, industries must do the same. From this health crisis a new way of approaching magazines, photography, styling and the buying and selling of merchandise will emerge where storytelling must supersede superficiality, said Baron. Brands and publications must hone an authentic voice which reflects the time and inspires “people with new ideas and new ways of looking at things. You need freshness and you need a lot of positiveness.”
  • Simplicity could be the antidote to the incessant pace at which the industry has been operating. The months of travelling it took to view runway shows or presentations, whether it was buyers or editors, hopping from “this city to that city just to see a show… After a while it [didn’t] make sense.” However, the outbreak of the coronavirus brought the fashion calendar to a standstill and designers turned towards digital tools in order to showcase their collections. This new way of using technology means “the way we communicate is going to change because the tools are changing and they’re opening new doors,” he said.They allow us to do different things and view things [from] different angles.”

Related Articles:

A Year Without Fashion Shows

Who Will Win the Digital Fashion Week Battle?

Fashion’s New Outlook on 2020

Fabien Baron Is Not Nostalgic

 

Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here. To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

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Imran Amed and Tim Blanks on Where Fashion Goes From Here

Imran Amed and Tim Blanks on Where Fashion Goes From Here

July 23, 2020

This week on Inside Fashion, the BoF tag team discuss the state of an industry in flux, digital pivots and the future of fashion shows.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — The outbreak of Covid-19 signalled major disruptions across the global fashion supply chain, from the garment workers left destitute in India and Bangladesh after retailers in the West cancelled orders to businesses temporarily shuttering brick-and-mortar sites in order to curb the spread of the virus. “This pandemic is shaping up to be one of those collective experiences of complete change… It seems like [there has been] such a momentous shift in perception and [in] the way all of us are thinking about life,” said BoF Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed.

For both Amed and BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks, this period of uncertainty offered an opportunity for the industry to reassess the way it operates. “This industry is so important, it’s so big... and there’s so much of an opportunity to do things better,” Amed said.“We have a moral responsibility to do better as an industry.”

  • Blanks first realised the enormity of the health crisis after returning from Paris Fashion Week. “March 3 [the last day of Paris Fashion Week] was the day that you could feel the storm clouds had well and truly gathered over fashion… there was this sense of some enormous, ominous force,” he said. Even as lockdown measures have eased and designers have set their sights on an iteration of September fashion shows, the feeling of uncertainty still looms. “September isn’t in our hands, we don’t know what is going to happen in September or in January… I think the situation is incredibly volatile,” Blanks added.
  • Like many industries, the fashion sector has adopted digital tools in order to keep working in the age of social distancing, from virtual showrooms and live streaming to online-only fashion shows. For Blanks, the allure of sitting in the pews of an elaborate runway show, just inches away from visual masterpieces, can never be duplicated on screen. However, he also acknowledged that the brands and designers' response to the disruption of the fashion calendar using digital presentations “was really interesting, [especially seeing]... how so many different creative sensibilities approached the same challenge.”
  • The pandemic and political unrest has accelerated the conversation around responsibility in the fashion industry. Now more than ever, brands are being called upon to address the lack of diversity and inclusion within their corporate structures. “This momentum for change cannot be diverted, it cannot be still. It must roll on and I think fashion has to be a part of… the solution not the problem,” Blanks said. “The most critical challenge facing the industry is inclusivity… it has to be more inclusive and embracing… Opportunity needs to be equal for everybody.”

 

Related Articles:

A Year Without Fashion Shows

Fashion’s New Outlook on 2020

Op-Ed | Fashion Is Part of the Race Problem

Designers Lobby to ‘Fix’ the Fashion System. Will It Work?

 

Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here. To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

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Stephen Jones Says the Constant Quest for Perfection Often Kills Spontaneity

Stephen Jones Says the Constant Quest for Perfection Often Kills Spontaneity

July 22, 2020

Celebrated milliner Stephen Jones talks to BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about how the pandemic has signalled an opportunity to reshape the fashion industry.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — For Stephen Jones, a prolific hatter and one of the most lauded milliners in modern memory, “hats and dressing up are a sign of optimism in spite of everything.” In his storied career, which spans four decades, he has created visual masterpieces both under his namesake brand and as the artistic director of hats at Christian Dior.

“The purpose of fashion… is maybe to give people a dream,” Jones told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in the latest episode of The BoF Podcast. “To give people the idea of more fun times, a better life… something which is solely for their pleasure,”

  • For Jones, who has created hats for high-profile clients from Princess Diana to Rihanna, forced isolation has provided an opportunity for reflection and “just being able to focus on one thing,” he told Blanks. “I’ve only ever done that in my first collection [and] that was 40 years ago. So in a funny way, I’ve been able to have the focus and the time to do something that I haven’t been able to in 40 years.”
  • “Fashion is that fabulous escapism that people yearn for,” Jones said, and when it comes crafting intricate designs, he avoids the “constant quest for perfection because perfection often kills spontaneity.”
  • As with many industry professionals across the globe, the pandemic and political unrest has signalled an opportunity for Jones to transform old practices and reshape the industry. “The one thing about fashion is it evolves,” he said. “If it doesn’t evolve it doesn’t make sense.”

 

Related Articles:

Stephen Jones and the Grammar of Hats

The BoF Podcast: Stephen Jones on the Craft of Millinery

 

Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here. To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

 

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Neiman Marcus Chief Executive Sees Stores As Vital for Digital Growth

Neiman Marcus Chief Executive Sees Stores As Vital for Digital Growth

July 16, 2020

In an exclusive conversation with BoF’s Imran Amed, Geoffroy van Raemdonck expresses optimism for the retailer’s bankruptcy process and explains why brick-and-mortar remains integral to its core business.

LONDON, United Kingdom — When facing both a nation-wide retail shutdown and a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing, Neiman Marcus Group Chief Executive Geoffroy van Raemdonck found solace in one fact: his most loyal customers, even at stores that have yet to re-open to the public, are shopping more than they did last year.

“Neiman Marcus is a relationships business,” Van Raemdonck told BoF Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed in an exclusive interview this week.

Despite the global health crisis — and a dire debt problem that loomed even pre-pandemic — Van Raemdonck sees an opportunity for growth.

  • As consumers continue to migrate online, Neiman Marcus’ 43 stores remain integral to forging lasting connections between shoppers and sales associates. Prior to the coronavirus, every Neiman Marcus store that was open for more than a year was profitable. That’s why the retailer is planning on closing fewer than 10 stores, Van Raemdonck said.
  • Neiman Marcus’ primary problem is debt. In 2019, the company generated $415 million in adjusted EBITDA, which represented 9 percent of its sales. The issue is that $365 million of that profit had to go toward paying down its debt. In the bankruptcy process, Neiman Marcus has been able to convince more than 75 percent of its debtholders to exchange what they are owed for equity in the company.
  • The retailer's objective now is to maximise its existing relationships with customers and meeting them where they are. To do so, it recently unveiled a new clienteling app called Neiman Marcus Connect. The app allows sales associates to connect with their individual customers wherever and however they like to shop.

 

Related Articles:

Can Neiman Marcus Survive Bankruptcy?

Can the American Department Store Be Saved?

Why Neiman Marcus Is Getting Rid of Its Off-Price Stores

 

Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here. To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

 

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Amber Valletta Says, ‘I Don’t Want to Work in an Industry That Is the Same as Before’

Amber Valletta Says, ‘I Don’t Want to Work in an Industry That Is the Same as Before’

July 14, 2020

The supermodel, actress and environmental activist talks to BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about why the fashion industry cannot return to ‘business as normal.’

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — “The uncertainty has forced us to get really present.... We have an amazing opportunity to restart and to begin again,” Amber Valletta told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in the latest episode of The BoF Podcast. “It is an incredible opportunity to stop and really figure out where we want to go from here. We can redesign a future.”

 

The American supermodel and actress, who has graced the cover of American Vogue 13 times and starred in various television and film series, including Revenge, Legends and Hitch, shared her thoughts on why the pandemic and political unrest has signalled the need for an equitable supply chain and an overhaul of the fashion calendar to reflect the industry’s “new normal.” 

 

  • Following the outbreak of the coronavirus, many garment workers in countries like India and Bangladesh were left destitute as textile factories shuttered and retailers in the west cancelled orders. “Before the designers make this amazing piece, [garment workers] are the people who put in the blood, sweat and tears,” Valletta said. . “In the 21st century, we should have a supply chain that’s fair and equitable.” 
  • Affecting change may not be simple but it is definitely required, Valletta said. In order to thrive in a post-pandemic climate, the fashion industry at large needs “to be resilient… which means we have to really stop doing business as normal because normal is archaic now.” For Valletta, fashion is about change and innovation: “I don’t want to work in an industry that is the same as before,” she said. 
  • “Why aren’t we slowing down the calendar?,” Valletta asked, addressing the industry’s incessant output of clothes that has accelerated over the years. “I was blessed to live in the most spectacular time in fashion… the crews were smaller, everything… There was an intimacy and excitement that we don’t have today,” she said, reflecting on her modelling career. . “There was no [social media]... and there was anticipation of the next season… Everything coming at you was a discovery.”

 

Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here. To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

 

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Farfetch’s José Neves Says Profitability Is Still Possible in 2021

Farfetch’s José Neves Says Profitability Is Still Possible in 2021

July 9, 2020

LONDON, United Kingdom —For Farfetch Founder and Chief Executive José Neves, the last six months have not only been about protecting his own business from the fallout of Covid-19, but also supporting the hundreds of boutiques around the world — from China, Japan and Korea to the Middle East and Europe — that sell their goods online through the luxury marketplace.

“We've been able to support the boutiques and the brands on the platform at crucial time where online is, for many, the main channel and for some... the only channel,” Neves told BoF Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed in the latest episode of The BoF Podcast.

But as Neves explained, more challenges lie ahead for Farfetch and the global fashion industry at large.

  • Neves described the platform’s performance as “very solid,” and expects to see an acceleration in its second quarter, with year over year growth of 25-30%. Part of this success can be attributed to the business shifting its focus to markets where consumer sentiment has started to recover, according to Neves.
  • But Farfetch is still losing money, and investors and market analysts have questioned the company's recent acquisition of New Guards Group (NGG). The acquisition may have bolstered profitability, but it took the business in an unexpected direction: actually owning the brands it sells on its platform. But Neves said he remains “confident” that Farfetch will achieve profitability by 2021 — a goal it outlined last year, and that the NGG business is a brand platform in its own right.
  • The luxury industry has been bracing for what has been called “the mother of all sales,” as retailers are forced to drastically discount their surplus of spring merchandise. Some observers have pointed to Farfetch as a regular culprit with respect to the industry's discounting addiction even before the Covid-19 pandemic. Neves says the discounting decisions are made by the brands and the retailers themselves, and that Farfetch is simply the platform they use to go to the market, but acknowledges that deep discounting is a systemic industry problem.
  • Neves believes the fashion industry will finally reckon with its wasteful and unsustainable business practices — and partially because it can also reduce costs. “I do think the industry had an oversupply problem, which is an environmental problem as well," he said. “Platforms have a responsibility to… incentivise customers to shop consciously. By doing that you create an incentive for brands to be more conscious or to be totally ethical and sustainable if they can.”

 

Related Articles:

A Cloudy Picture at Farfetch

Farfetch Signals Growing Ambitions in Resale

Why Farfetch's Free-Spending Ways Have Some Investors Concerned

 

Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here. To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

 

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Roger Federer on Partnering with On Running and Designing his First Shoe, The Roger

Roger Federer on Partnering with On Running and Designing his First Shoe, The Roger

July 6, 2020

The tennis legend and cult running shoe label On are launching a sneaker together. In the latest edition of the BoF Podcast, Federer shares what's next.

ZURICH, Switzerland — It’s been 17 years since Roger Federer won his first Wimbledon championship. Now, the 20-time Grand Slam winner is commemorating the date with the launch of his first sneaker for Swiss running label On.

Named “The Roger,” Federer’s debut is inspired by a tennis shoe, but it’s designed to be much lighter and intended for everyday wear, rather than professional sports. As with On’s more performance-driven trainers, the shoe is outfitted with the “CloudTec” technology (a special sole designed to enhance the running experience) for which On is best known. The company’s first “Cloud” performance sneaker, launched in 2010, quickly gained traction among the running community.

Federer’s tie-up with On is much more than the typical ambassador-brand relationship. For starters, he invested an undisclosed amount in the company last year, consulting for the brand before signing on to co-develop product. As the tennis star put it to BoF's Imran Amed in an exclusive interview for the BoF Podcast, he wanted to see if it would be possible “to create a deal and partnership that is more than the pay-to-play deal.”

 

Related Articles:

Roger Federer Buys Stake in Swiss Running Shoemaker

How Are Sports Brands Marketing Without Sports?

Uniqlo’s $300 Million Bet on Federer

 

Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here. To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

 

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Giles Deacon on Carving Out His Own Fashion Calendar

Giles Deacon on Carving Out His Own Fashion Calendar

July 3, 2020
The designer speaks with BoF's Imran Amed about the importance of creative autonomy in a time of 'product for more product’s sake.'
 

LONDON, United Kingdom — Designer Giles Deacon’s list of clients is impressive, including Billie Porter, Sarah Jessica Parker and the New York City ballet, while his runway shows were once counted as one of the most exciting events at London Fashion Week. But a few years ago, he decided to leave all that behind, focusing on growing his private client business instead. In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, Deacon spoke with BoF Founder and Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed about what it's been like to buck the system in a meaningful way.

  • After a few years working in the fashion industry, Deacon became disillusioned by the pace of production. “[It] was about designing more and more product for more product’s sake,” he said. So he decided to return to his art school days, focusing on craftsmanship and elaborate designs.
  • For Deacon, creative autonomy is crucial. If couture designers are to deliver spectacular garments, they need time and artistic independence. “The beauty of the bespoke is to be able to work with the client to give them that sense of service and exclusivity,” said Deacon, adding that his network of VIP customers has grown organically through word of mouth.
  • Lockdown hasn’t stopped Deacon from working over the past few months. "I have been doing sketching, consultations and FedExing patterns,” he said. “It’s gotten smaller, but things still move along.”
  • Looking to the future, Deacon said social distancing measures have prompted him to rethink his own practices. “I have become more conscious of my travelling… [Once lockdown restrictions are lifted, I may travel] less but possibly for longer.”

 

Related Articles:

Giles Deacon on the Inspiration and Couture Craft Behind Pippa Middleton's Wedding Dress

Why Fashion 'Seasons' Are Obsolete

A Proposal for Rewiring the Fashion System

 

Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here. To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

 

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